Spyderco Balance and Delica modded by Ed Schempp

January 6, 2014

One of the first folders I carried this year, was my Spyderco Ed Schempp Balance and my old(er) favorite, a Spyderco white FRN Delica 4. However, both knives have been modified or modded by Ed Schempp himself. Both knives have been enhanced by Ed with some Devin Thomas raindrop pattern stainless damascus steel.




The white damascus Delica has been featured on this website for a few years now and is not ‘new’. During the photoshoot for the Balance, I decided that the Delica needed some better pictures. So here you go.

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Review: Kris PE

July 23, 2007

I have a soft spot for folders with bolsters. It’s probably the reason why I got all the Ed Schempp collaboration models to date. I think most of us here are attracted to the unique and ‘unusual’ (for a production knife) lines of these knives. When I got the Persian and the Mini Persian, I came to appreciate other qualities in these knives. They echo visions of knife design from an earlier era. They remind me a lot of my Al Mar SERE model (the really big one). Part of that has to do with the classic ethnic designs, the knives ‘look classic’, but it’s also in the construction and materials. These knives don’t care for space age polymers (save for the Micarta), it’s a sandwich of steel and Micarta with a heft that exudes strength to the owner. In short, holding the Kris makes me want to make those grunting noises Tim Allen used to make on the sitcom ‘Home Improvement’ whenever he dealt with a cool piece of gear. 😉

Although the Kris is no lightweight, the weight distribution was done very cleverly. Once the knife is opened and in your hand, the perceived weight is gone. The knife is very well balanced. In a saber grip, the knife points very well. It’s almost like wielding an epee or something. That awkward looking bump on the handle, forming the first wave on the bolster is –surprisingly so- not awkward at all. In the hand, it forms a natural resting place for my thumb. The balance is very nice, definitely on par with my Chinook II.

In fact, the Kris reminds me of Jim Keating’s Crossada design. It’s the closest thing I can imagine to a folding Crossada. In a standard saber grip, the Kris’ blade is actually a little longer than it really is. There’s about an inch of bolster/choil before the edge starts. For those looking for a Spydie megafolder, this is the closes thing you’ll get…for now. If you’re into the classic Bowie school of MBC, a la James Keating, then give the Kris a long hard look as well.

Choking up on the handle is not difficult at all. The choil is shallow and the hump is low, but they’re still significant enough to allow for a solid choked up (forward saber) grip on this folder.

When I roll the knife over, with the edge facing upward, I was surprised to learn how comfortable even this modified grip is. This ‘fruit peeling’ type of grip is one of the best in any Spyder I own. That hump in the bolster is a natural anchor point between my index and middle finger. More importantly the gentle curve of the handle to blade angle is just right. All corners and edges on the entire handle are beveled like a bar of soap. Even the edges of the clip are hardly noticeable. In the forward-edge-up-hammer-grip (thumb folded down on your own hand), the Kris becomes an impressive drawknife. The shallow choil is large enough to place your thumb securely for more detailed cuts with the edge up.

I got the Kris for its stunning looks. And it will not be a regular carry knife for me. It’s simply too large for my EDC tastes. Nevertheless, I did give the Kris a little pocket time over the past 2 months, mostly on weekends. I used the Kris in the Kitchen, to break down cardboard boxes and everything else that came up around the house. Once I ‘mentally’ got over the waves –it’s not a plain edge, it’s not serrated, what gives?!- the Kris worked surprisingly well.

In the Kitchen, the gentle blade/handle angle was just right for using the last wave right before the tip. The narrow double ground blade worked nicely when making corners while cutting. Nevertheless, for a true folding kitchen knife I couldn’t get enough edge on a cutting board. A Military or Jot Singh Khalsa are much better overall ‘folding kitchen knives’.

When breaking down boxes and packaging, for our paper waste disposal, the lock remained sturdy and without even the expected vertical play. I even cut a few improvised tent stakes during a short camping trip, when some of the people in our party forgot to bring enough tent stakes. The waved blade made this chore a breeze. The sticks were quickly sharpened into tent stakes, by using the center ‘hollow’ part of the edge between two waves.

After my first sharpening session with the Kris, I got curious about the cutting potential of this blade. I took several sheets of magazine paper, rolled them up into paper-tubes and secured them with some tape. I placed these paper tubes on a table top and practiced some cutting; like I used to do during my Iaido training. The horizontal cuts didn’t work, it knocked the tubes straight of the table. However, the diagonal top-to-bottom cuts, and even the bottom-to-top cuts, were very impressive. I could slice the tubes in two with the bases still standing on the table. A very fun pastime, and to me it indicated what a powerful cutter the Kris blade can be.

The Kris is a stunning piece of cutlery. I’m sure this knife will spruce up anyone’s knife cabinet. The bolster is quite intricate, and functional too. I think this knife could make a great EDC knife for those preferring traditional size and weight in their folding knives. For me it’s a bit too large. I also think the Kris has some serious MBC potential, more so than the Persian, for those people who lean towards the Bowie school of knife work. I imagine the Kris is also a no-brainer for those people involved in Asian martial arts that already incorporate the Kris, and who are looking for a ‘live’ folding knife to complement their training. I was impressed by both the intricate and versatile handle design and the wavy blade. I wonder if it’s possible to put this type of Kris blade in a smaller lighter format, like an Endura or Delica 4 handle for example?

Review: S PE Silver

November 19, 2006

The S is one of those irresistible designs that you just ‘find’ a use for. I got plenty of small pocket folders, and even more little big knives. Yet the cutouts on the S do look cool and the design is a refinement of the Salsa I carried for quite a while. A few e-mails with my friend Rorsach (www.scarysharp.com) sealed the deal; I had to have a silver S. Although -to me- the S is a handy novelty design, I was still curious to see how functional it is.

Salsa generation 2
The S looks like it started out like a Salsa and was put through boot camp. Apart from losing weight, it got shot up a bit too. The holes are everywhere, making the S ultra light. The blade has been narrowed down as well, resulting in a nice and pointy tip. The ‘blunt’ tip on the Salsa was its only real drawback. The clip design is the same on the S as it was with the Salsa. The maker is still from Taiwan, but he seems to have had a course in fit and finish. The S’ fit and finish is steps above that from the Salsa. In my S, there is no blade play in any direction (even after disassembly, but more about that later) and the edges on the handle are nicely rounded. 

The clip on the S is a nice reversible wireclip. I love wireclips because they feel great and they are low profile when clipped to the pocket. This clip had to be moved on the other side for left-handed carry. That procedure didn’t get any easier, compared to the Salsa. Sure there is one less screw in the handle to loosen, but I still needed to disassemble the entire knife to change the clip. I wanted the non-clipside ‘clip screw’ to sit flush with the handle. That’s why I needed to switch the entire “barrel-screw-assembly”. The male part of the clip screw assembly has a much better grip on the clip too. The female part simply doesn’t hold the clip down as well; the clip started to shift a bit after a week.

Taking the S apart (sorry no camera was around), revealed two rubber-like washers and amazingly few parts. Adjusting the compression lock seemed a bit tricky at first. The lockbar either barely contacted the tang, or it went almost all the way over to the opposite end of the tang. In the end I realized that in both cases, there was no blade play. So I decided to go with the ‘lock bar almost all the way over on the tang’. The lockbar hasn’t moved in little less than a month’s carry, use and flicking. The (un)locking tab is a bit sharp and small. It could be a little bigger so it bites my thumb a little less. This little inconvenience is slightly exaggerated by the fact that the lock bar tends to stick a little to the tang. I certainly have no fear of the lock accidentally disengaging, but the Golden made compression locks are a bit more refined in this area.

I was quite anxious to see how the cutout blade would perform. The cutouts in the R2 fill up almost immediately with cardboard or food. Not so with the S, as I found out. The blade’s holes, combined with that wonderful flat grind, are nicely finished. The edges of the cutouts are rather smooth and don’t grab onto everything you cut. Apart from not feeling much drag, the holed also don’t clog up much. And even when the holes do clog up, with ‘amandelspijs’ for example (my fellow Dutch forumites will understand), the blade still cuts and cleaning was easy with a brush, soap and running water.

The 440C blade holds its edge well enough. Subjectively I’d say it’s a notch better than the AUS 8 in the older Salsa. The S needs a bit more rinsing than other knives and I haven’t seen any rust spots yet. Then again, I haven’t had this knife long enough to get really ‘sloppy’ with it.

I really love the jimping on the blade spine behind the hole and in the choil. The jimping could be just a hint rougher because a like to ‘feel’ the grip if that makes any sense. I can tell you that the jimping is fine enough not to chafe, even on the thinner skin of my index fingers in the choil.

Pivot inconveniences
The pivot did loosen up by itself regularly. I am sure it was because I took the S apart for a thorough clip change. A little drop of superglue solved it. I also found that dirt accumulates on the tang around the pivot through the little holes around it. It rinses out easy enough though.

The S is definitely a much improved variation of the Salsa. The tip is much more useful in everyday cutting chores. The grip is thinner but still just as great. The grip is both secure, comfortable and versatile; kind of reminds me of the Li’l Temp grip.

Moreover, the S is incredibly light. If you’re into trekking or climbing where weight is a very important factor then the S is the cutting tool for you. It’s as light as paper and the lock seems really solid. Cleaning is easy because of the cutouts. Because of those same cutouts, you do spend more time cleaning this knife than with a regular design.

The NKP-friendly factory is very high on the S. It shares the ‘techie/meccano’ look of the Polliwog with the friendly rounded shapes of the Salsa. The S looks nice and works better than I expected.

I don’t carry the S in my EDC rotation, because it is still a rather bulky package compared to other folders in that size range. The S had to compete with a few Kopas and a Red Bone Kiwi in my EDC rotation. The S is a bit bigger compared to those designs and still a bit ‘rough’, both in terms of looks and finish. The Kopa and Kiwi boast significantly better fit and finish, than the –admittedly improved- finish of the S. Don’t get me wrong, for a factory knife the S’ finish is very good. But the Japanese maker of the Kopa and Kiwi is simply on another level. This aspect is reflected in the pricing. If I could only carry one ‘small’ folder and it had to be really lightweight, then this is the knife to get. For now, it’s a lovely curio and desk-knife for me.

Review: Cricket SE SS Handle

April 9, 2006

Collected by many and used by even more, the Cricket offers something for everyone. I never seriously considered one, because its blade shape looked to be too difficult to sharpen and it just didn’t look very useful. Ever since I had a Dodo, this viewpoint changed and when I needed a good little clipless tactical folder, the Cricket filled the bill.

Spot the clip
As many of you know, at the office, knives are usually a no-no. Shiny clips draw undue attention. I love showing off my knives to non-knife people, don’t get me wrong, but on my terms. That means that I generally only show the usefulness of a knife, if there is something to be cut and never just for show. A shiny clip can put this initiative with the inquisitive and often judgmental mind of a co-worker. Usually, hiding clips and parts of a knife handle is no problem; my belt usually does the trick. In the extreme heat of summer I needed a knife that carried very comfortably in a back pocket and was suitable for emergency use. Before the Cricket had this very accessible linerlock, but with an integral lock, this knife is just what I was looking for.

The Spyderco Story (Kenneth T. Delavigne, Paladin Press, 2000) describes the Cricket as a diminutive version of the Civilian, something that just kept roaming in the back of my head. With a little modification the SS Cricket becomes a very dandy alternative for a real tactical folder. The Cricket’s blade is touted as being ideal for opening cardboard boxes, and that’s true. With the Cricket’s integral lock I didn’t even experience any blade play while cutting heavy cardboard boxes at work (computer boxes). According to the Spyderco Story (p. 95): “Sal had two concepts in mind when designing this knife. The first was a small river rock-the flat oval rocks we love to skip on the surface of water. Second was the Oriental yin-yang shape…”. With the thinner SS handle, I must say that the Cricket carries even more unobtrusive than my trusty SS Kiwi. Sal absolutely got it right when designing this knife as a river rock/pebble. In addition, the Cricket looks very ‘funny’ and ‘cute’ to ‘outsiders’ ;-), even with its fully serrated reverse-S blade. That blade cuts like crazy, it is a bit thinner than my Dodo and the VG-10 blade sharpens up nice and smooth.

Taking off the clip
Now I hate tip-down folders with smaller than 3-inch blades, so the first course of action was to take off this clip. Besides, the whole point of this knife was not to show any clips. The opening mechanics of this folder are extremely good. The wide handle, blade and full sized opening hole all combine to offer the user good purchase on the knife when retrieving and opening the knife. In the hand, the handle is a bit short though. That is why I added a lanyard of thick paracord. This gives me a similar ‘tail’ to the handle as on my Dodo. Of course, this paracord will never become the pressure point instrument that the Yojimbo and Dodo are, but I do get a full grip on the knife that’s relatively slip/slide free. Grip is always an issue with SS handled knives.

The handle scales, and with it the locking bar, are thin but just like my Spydercard it feels surprisingly strong. There was one issue however. The stop pin, comprising of two screws and a spacer (I think), was a bit loose. When the blade was half-opened, it rattled a little. All the different parts were almost welded together; I could not tighten or unscrew it. It turned out that the whole unit just needed to be turned a bit. All seems well now.

My personally modified Cricket is a great pocket carry piece, and I am very happy with it as a little ‘covert’ emergency folder. Sort of a keychain La Griffe.

Review: Rescue jr. SE

April 9, 2006

I had been eyeing the new Rescue models ever since the original blue 93mm model came out. Sure, the Rescues don’t have the conventional drop point or any point at all and at first they may seem a bit specialized. At least, that was my first opinion about the Rescue models. However, since my Kiwi I have learned to appreciate the wharncliffe point for everyday use. Furthermore, having a Dodo taught me how to properly sharpen serrations. So when I needed a cheap cutting machine with limited prying capability, the Rescue became a viable option.


Indeed, the Rescue blade is not a proper wharncliffe. The wharncliffe offers a very fine and solid point, suitable for picking out splinters and excellent for cutting out articles. In addition, my experience with a Kiwi, showed that a wharncliffe does pretty much everything that my drop point blades used to do. Apart from cutting on a board to slice op veggies for example, I can’t think of anything that the drop point does better than a wharncliffe. Besides, I wouldn’t want to use my tiny Kiwi for cutting up the tomatoes and veggies for dinner! Anyway, the Rescue 79mm’s blade is much more practical than you’d think. Opening envelopes, cutting out articles, fruit for lunch can be done just as easily as with my Delica, Dragonfly or Kiwi . The serrated edge is really pretty thin, shaving hair and slicing paper is easy with this knife. But this thing really shines when cutting up cardboard boxes or other stuff that can be ripped open. Of course, the Rescue doesn’t rip but cut and slice, but the handle and new thumb serrations behind the opening hole allow you to lock on the handle and it won’t let loose.


The Rescue’s main refinements (compared to the Rescue jr.) can be found in the user interface, i.e. the parts you hold on to. The opening hole is nice and large (Military size), there are thumb serrations, a boye-dent has been added and the clip well has been reinforced. The clip is old school ambidextrous; the same set-up as the Delica and Endura type folders. Actually, with the other handle improvements I wouldn’t mind a wire clip on the new Rescue 79mm. I know the wire clip isn’t everybody’s favorite, but it is so comfortable for the hand when using the knife since there are no sharp corners on a wire clip. In fact, I think the clip is a bit sharp at the corners. Maybe I am getting used to the wire clips, but this really struck me as a first handled the knife.

I will admit the Rescue is not a sexy knife, it’s a pretty funky looking knife especially with the blunt tip and pronounced hump on the blade. Yet, it works so well. This knife looks like a folding saw or a knife only good for ripping apart stuff. Indeed, the handle will let you rip through rough materials without losing your knife in the process. However, the edge is really refined, it is a slicer. Plus, I feel it shares much of the advantages of the traditional wharncliffe blade. Sure, it doesn’t have the same sharp tip, but the sheepsfoot’s ‘corner’ works equally well in cutting out articles and sharpening is really easy. There’s no worrying about rounding of the tip on this knife.

Over the weekend I used the Rescue 79mm for kitchen duty. It functions much like a standard paring knife, with a surprise or two. Cutting up veggies and making thin slices of cucumber went really well with this folder. Especially when considering the relatively thick blade and saber grind. Those serrations are pretty amazing; the serrated blade does not slip off the vegetable and a push cut is all that’s needed for see-through cucumber slices! And in left-handed mode, the slices easily fall to the side. I’m definitely going to get a couple of Spyderco Kitchen knives, these serrations work really well in the kitchen, let alone on a thinner flat ground blade. In a pinch, the Rescue 79mm worked really well in the kitchen.

Although the knife is probably a no-brainer for people in firefighting or fishing, where a sharp serrated edge and a sheepsfoot blade particularly shine. I would also urge all you Spyderco fans out there to consider this folder as a left- or right-handed accessory to your main plain edged folder. The Rescue 79mm is very thin and lightweight, and all the serrations you could ask for in such a small package. And it comes in three different colors (orange, black and blue) to suit all flavors. If you don’t want to carry an extra full-serrated folder, then I am sure the Rescue 79mm will be a welcome addition to the gear bag.

I wouldn’t carry this piece as my main carry folder, I am just too accustomed to a plain edge but I think it is a great budget-conscious secondary folder. I will use my Rescue as a regular utility companion to my blue forum Native III (yes I have a color fetish, you should know that by now!). It really does everything I demand of such a knife, the blunt tip does not get in the way. In addition I will use the Rescue 79mm for all those tasks that could be to tough on my main carry knife’s finish; when serrations are best, a little prying could be necessary, or where the knife has a more than average chance of being lost. It’s just one of those unassuming folders that does much more than you’d think, but will go unnoticed by many.

Review: Chinook 2 PE

March 31, 2006

The number one selection criterion for this folder was fun. I just wanted to get the biggest baddest MBC folder there is. Sure the Civie is one tough folder to beat; and someday I will get a Civilian and see what the fuss is all about ;-). To maintain the purpose with which this folder was purchased, I’ll offer you a martial artist’s review of he Chinook II. The Chinook offers numerous little MBC features, packaged in a rugged workhorse type package, which is surprisingly lightweight. (The accompanying pictures show the newer Chinook 3, not the Chinook 2)

 The number one thing I always look for in a tactical folder is the handle. Sure, some will say that is looking at things from the wrong end. However, deploying a folder under stress and keeping my fingers wrapped around it is more important to me, than whether the blade is convex ground or has a geotanto tip. If the blade has a sharp edge and a serviceable point, then I move on to examine the handle. Does it offer a secure grip? Does it allow multiple gripping options that are safe? Can I use it with my weak hand? Etc. The Chinook would answer all these questions in affirmative. While the first Chinook was joked to be a useful impact weapon, closed, by dropping it on your assailant’s foot; the Chinook II seems too light for that particular trick. Still, when closed, the butt end of the handle is a natural, large and solid striking area.

When doing impact drills, the clip is smooth enough not to cut in your palm. When the blade is deployed, the fun really begins with the handle as an impact weapon. The bowie’s and Keating’s saber heritage shines through here. While you can still use the butt of the handle for hulk-like smash and bash, the gently curving point of the busk offers a surprisingly natural secondary striking surface. While this little saber has no D-guard, it seems that you may still use it as such. During practice, I stepped in close after deflecting an incoming slash and couldn’t reverse my blade quickly enough for a follow-up. No biggie, I just responded by throwing a hook-punch on the dummy. Only, my hand missed, but not that little tip of the busk. With a little practice you can actually use this tip at the butt of the handle to launch a hook-type strike and reverse with a little back-cut. I love this feature, great options for the martial artist that loves to accumulate all sorts of little tricks to the toolbox. I know of no other folder that can do this sneaky trick. It really adds to the close quarters MBC capabilities of this knife. 

The Chinook 2 handles really naturally in the edge-out reverse grip. One thing that stands out when using the knife in this mode is that the curving blade really helps with trapping limbs. The non-sharpened clip seems to trap offending limbs almost by itself. It works really instinctively with the Chinook. Mind you, this is all done with the dummy and not on a noncooperating attacker. The arch also seems large enough to trap the back of the neck of an attacker, to better introduce it to a nearby wall and such. Mind you, I do not practice trapping as a strategy, but in sparring I noticed that I can actually miss a target ;-). When overshooting your target, trapping becomes a natural option, and you can turn the tables on your assailant after all. 

When using the knife in reverse grip edge-in, it works amazingly well for me. Two things to look out for are the locking mechanism and staying off the blade when thrusting. In this grip, my fingers stay well away from the locking bar, so I am hopeful I won’t disengage the lock accidentally. Second, that guard-like protrusion in front of the choil -that works so well in the traditional saber grip- also protects my hand from the blade in the reverse-edge-in-grip. I can even slide my thumb halfway across the butt for added security. For those right-handers who can’t wait until the Pikal knife is out, switch the clip to a left and carry it as usual. With a little practice and personal preference of tip up or down, it deploys nicely in the edge in reverse grip. If I was looking for a full-sized Pikal folder, I’d go for the Chinook II, period. 

The blade is thicker than I expected, especially near the tip. I was expecting a more delicate blade, as you can expect in most other production clip/bowie type blades, both folders and fixed. Still, the grinds provide a scary sharp blade and point. This blade is heavier than most other spydies, but with the same sharp edge and tip. This caused me to be a bit scared of the edge at first. Since it was heavier than I’m used to, I was just waiting for this thing to slip out of my fingers -I tend to … play with my knives too you know ;-)- and that its weight would make a deep cut on my person. This hasn’t happened though. The wide extra grippy G10 slabs offer a lot of surface for the fingertips to hang on to. 

Like the Kasper folding knife, the Chinook II’s edge hangs below the knuckles in an edge-out grip. Although this does allow for more positive contact with the cutting target, it also begs for kitchen duty! I can say that the Chinook is a worthy folding kitchen knife. What it lacks in a thin flat ground blade, it compensates for it because you can bring a lot of edge down to the cutting board. The factory edge was very coarse; it almost gripped the veggies before slicing them. Very effective, I must practice more to create those edges myself. I tend to go for the best-polished edge I can get out of my sharpmaker.

What don’t I like about this knife. Well, I have a huge personal bias for Spyderco Knives. I have had such good experiences with these knives that I inevitably tend to look for the strengths of their models, rather than weaknesses. Therefore, the things I generally dislike about Spydies come to the surface after carrying and using them for a while, as opposed to initial examination. On a big lockback like the Chinook, you’d expect the corner of tang to stick out of the handle when closed which is very uncomfy when carrying and deploying the folder. However, the curvy back-strap of the blade is seated flush with the guard, so no troubles there. The clip is rounded and smooth, unlike that of the Delica for example, so no troubles there. The Chinook II comes with the “Swiss cheese” clip option that is 4 options to attach the clip, which many of us asked for. It also leaves a lot of unsightly holes. I don’t mind it and the holes blend in with the black G10; so no real trouble there as well. There is one thing though, it is big very big. Although within legal carry limits for me, there is no way anyone would let me get away with whipping it out in the city centre in public.

Plus, I generally prefer slightly smaller blades to cut off a string or two. I would prefer a Chinook II junior with a three-inch blade. So after harassing Spyderco for many years for a Paramilitary, I now would like to start the campaign for a “Para-Chinook”! For those looking for a big, versatile folder that is good for rugged and fine utility work, but superb for MBC work (Keating absolutely knew what he was doing when hiding the little MBC features in this knife), then I heartily recommend the Chinook. Besides, it’s a breath of fresh air to carry and use a folder that has been selected purely on its functional and aesthetic merits, rather than it’s politically correctness.

Review: Ocelot PE & CE

March 18, 2006

When the original large Wegner model was rumored to be an official Gunsite Training Center knife, I had to get one to try out. It was the first time that I considered a ‘specialized’ hunting knife could be a useful utility or even tactical knife. The knife was excellent, but the ergos didn’t fit me and I it was a bit too heavy for me. I figured the Ocelot would solve those problems and add a few more features, so I took the plunge and got one.

I had been waiting very long for the Ocelot to hit the market. It was I think 3 or 4 years since the first prototypes were shown online and apparently sold at a show. Then the waiting began for the model to finalize into a production model. The first plan was to make it in (grey) FRN with a compression lock, but lo en behold, the production model turned out to be a lockback model with SS liners and G10 scales! I am a cat person of sorts, with two feline companions in the house so I was sold from the beginning.

The Ocelot is similar in size to the well-know Delica, Native and other 3-inch bladed folders. A few recent offerings in that field, like the Li’l Temperance and the Mini Manix, have been big. The blade length was near the 3 inch mark, but the width and handle were made for a much bigger knife. The little big knives offer great performance, but sometimes you want a small folder to just be a small folder. In that respect, the Ocelot is a ‘real’ 3 inch folder. Carry is great due to the overall thinner profile and the gentle curve. These two features make the Ocelot one of the finest IWB carry folders.

G10 texture
The G10 slabs are thinner than usual. I also find the G10 to be smoother and less aggressive out of the box, than say the Mini Manix of Yojimbo. I think Spyderco used ‘regular’ high-quality G10 instead of the extra-glass-filled variety they use in other folders. Of course, the G10 doesn’t need to be grippy by itself, the paw prints add to the grip.

Maybe that is why I was a bit disappointed at first in the grip of the Ocelot. With Spyderco’s reputation of using more grippy and thicker G10, combined with the cutout paw prints, I expected the Ocelot’s handle to be as rough as a rasp. It isn’t, not even out of the box. What dawned on me after a while, is that the handle is ‘just as’ grippy as that new Paramilitary out of the box. Smoother G10 plus paw prints creates just as rough a surface a the thick extra glass filled G10 on say a Yojimbo.

However, the paw prints are not nearly as grippy for me as the much larger divot holes of an ATR or Li’l Temperance handle. Only when I purposefully made my hands wet and greasy (kitchen work), did I notice how effective the paw prints can be. Cleaning the paw prints was easy for me, not much different than my usual full cleaning of folders. First full inside and outside rinsing under warm water, liquid dishwashing detergent and a brush, rinse again and within two minutes I’m busy drying and oiling. The paw prints take extra work to dry them, but it can be done.

I think the handle on the Ocelot offers something for everyone. The gentle curves make the folder easy to carry and easy to work with. The humps and gripping serrations are in the right place to make your grip stick securely enough for MBC work, if you’d like that. Upside down grips, edge-in and out, it’s all equally comfy and grippy for all types of mundane utility stuff.

The blade is just as thick as on the Mini Manix, the locking bar and handle are all full thickness. This makes the Ocelot feel very strong in regular use. Strength-wise, the way it locks up, feels just like a Mini Manix. Actually, the Ocelot’s blade retains it blade thickness much closer to the tip than the Mini Manix. Still, that thickness is also one of the reasons the Ocelot is not in my top-three favorite folding knives.

Apart from tip-up clips, I’m also addicted to flat grinds. The hollow grind of the Ocelot is plenty sharp, but I guess that when you work so much with one particular grind (flat in my case) you notice something different. The hollow ground blade just feels different to me. Subjectively I think I’m meeting more resistance in everything from onions to cardboard. That’s too bad, because I absolutely love the curve of the blade. The curvy blade/handle on the Ocelot has the potential to become the perfect folding kitchen knife. Not only can this small folder put a lot of edge on a cutting board, the tip is nicely sharp and small. The Ocelot can hold its own between a paring knife and a small kitchen utility knife.

The tip is thick, ‘narrow’ and sharp. I had a lot of confidence to just stick that tip in a light crate to cut and pry the heavy plastic bands of. No marks on the blade or edge. The round butt-end of the handle further facilitates working with the point. Not only is it round and wide enough to properly ‘seat’ in the palm of my hand, the gripping serrations on the spine are perfect for placing your index finger for control.

I really love those little gripping serrations on the spine, closer to the tip. Cutting out photos, articles et cetera, works like no other folder. I used them pretty much for every task where I worked with the tip. And they never got in the way.

One drawback was the gold bug. The first time testing the Ocelot in the kitchen was when the paint started to fall off, or rather after the first washing and wiping the blade clean with a towel. After reading and seeing on the forums how good the bug looks with all the gold removed, I dived into my wife’s make-up kit to look for some nail polish removal. The paint came off in 10 seconds flat, all the way, even in the little legs of the spyder. I expected it to be a little harder. The ‘black’ bug ghosts out a bit in different light, it looks way cooler than regular laser engraving.

I do recognize now why some people like the semi skinner design as an MBC knife. The most secure forward grip (one that keeps your fingers off the blade) on the ocelot, necessitates gripping the knife at the far end of the handle. The choil is now ‘empty’ and your reach has just increased a full inch. In a saber grip, the tip is in-line with the main bones in the forearm. Theoretically, this helps absorb shock from impact. In my training, I find that it makes pointing and hitting the target –especially in deep fencing-like lunges- easier to do. The curvy design, allows the edge to be presented first, ahead of your knuckles. The Chinook II also has this attribute. When closed the Ocelot protrudes about 5mm past my closed hand, to make for an excellent impact tool. The rounded butt is not optimal for softer targets like shoulders, upper legs or biceps (unlike the Yojimbo for example), but one harder targets (hands, chest) it works just as good as anything.

An excellent utility/tactical folder, much like the Mini Manix. It is very nice to see a narrow and easy-to-carry design again, with premium materials. And the clip goes everywhere you want. I chose a pair of right/left-handed Ocelots, all tip-up of course. A lefty PE version to work with, and a righty CE version as a spare and for those occasions when some teeth come in handy.

However, I disliked the hollow grind. I now know I’ve gone over the edge. It’s flat grinds all the way for me. I lent my Ocelot to friends and they all thought that it was a sharp as anything. It’s probably nothing objective but I just need a full flat grind to be completely happy. Still, I like the Ocelots plenty. They are the biggest knives I can work with in public, among nonknife people. The paw prints just make it look ‘cute’. And the round shape of the knife adds to this perception of a ‘cute useful tool’. Another fine pair for ye olde carry rotation, but I won’t be getting a ‘junior’ or possible ‘Ocelot II’ variation or something like that.

Review: Mini Manix PE & CE

January 31, 2006

Since the Mini Manix is a virtual look-alike of my beloved Li’l Temp, I didn’t hesitate to get two right of the bat. The profile of the Mini Manix is a lot like the Li’l Temp: same leaf blade shape, similar length and a similar tough hard-use design. For the purpose of this review I’d like to compare the two.

The Manix 80mm is also known as the 83mm, but I prefer the name coined on the forums; so from here on it is referred to as the Mini Manix. The Mini Manix probably has one of the fastest production cycles I’ve seen to date. A very first concept model was shown at the Amsterdam Preview show in March 2005, and the first models shipped in December of that same year. Spydies usually take a little longer to fully mature before they are released into the wild.

The Li’l Temperance is famous for its ‘putty-like’ handle. It is light and melts in your hand. Furthermore, the handle is very secure and I can’t imagine ever dropping it or sliding my hand from the handle in any direction. The Mini Manix is not that lightweight, nor does it have the same finesse in 3D handle design like the Li’l Temp does. Still the Mini Manix offers a full grip and above average grip security.

Gripping the handle before the choil, I can fit all four fingers of my XL-size hand just right. Using the choil, the handle is plenty large. The Mini Manix’ handle is a brick compared to the Li’l Temp. A smooth edged brick, but a brick nonetheless. It has to be because the design was intended to be lefty-friendly, so both sides of the handle were made symmetrical. The handle is no match for the Li’l Temp’s 3D design. But the Li’l Temperance is an exception to many Spydies that way. Compared to most other Spydies, the Mini Manix is just as comfy to grip.

There is no busk on the handle, but the Mini Manix is very thick and the G10 is of the usual ultra grippy variety. A busk would be nice, but it’s not necessary. Plus, adding a busk would compromise other features, such as ease of carry and acquiring a quick and easy grip on the clipped knife. The Li’l Temperance with its finger grooves does offer a type of busk, so theoretically it is the more secure handling knife. This is an important feature for MBC aficionados. It is so sloppy to drop your knife during sparring. Trust me, I know ;-).

The action is silky smooth on both of my Mini Manixes. The Li’l Temp uses a compression lock, which is as smooth as the finest linerlock for opening and closing. I would have expected the Mini Manix to be rougher to open because of the higher tension generated by its locking bar. Surprisingly enough, the Mini Manix is as smooth to open and close as a Li’l Temperance. However, the action did get a little rougher after I used my PE Mini Manix for a couple of weeks and washing it out without oiling. The action became rougher because the locking bar needed a little oil. A drop or two of Tuffglide and the smooth action was back again.

The weight distribution is a little different on the Minis, when compared to its full-size predecessor. The Manix was pretty dead in my hands for MBC applications. The Mini-Manix’ balance on the other hand is very nice. It moves light, fast and snappy. In this respect, it resembles the Li’l Temperance again.

The Li’l Temperance doesn’t have a choil, which makes it a little less desirable from a utility viewpoint. For the mundane urban utility stuff my knives get to do, a choil is much appreciated. It is excellent for those finer things, like peeling fruit or cutting out articles and the like. So the Mini Manix gets extra points for its choil.

The clip on the Mini Manix is reversible for the (correct 😉 ) tip-up position for left- and right-hand carry. One important thing to mention is that none of the clip screws were dipped in loc-tite. So the clip-change was ever so easy and cosmetically pleasing, as there was no chance of stripping the screws in any way. The clip is high, but not too high. I don’t like the UKPK’s high clip mount as it leaves me with little knife to grip from a pocket or waistband. Not so with the Mini Manix. And there are plenty of screws there for added grip.

However, the Mini Manix clip is no comparison for the feature rich clip of the Li’l Temperance. The Li’l Temp boasts holes to aid in gripping and grip changes. It’s nice and wide and really becomes part of the knife with no sharp corners to pinch the hand. The Mini Manix uses a stock clip that is found on many other Spydies. For most people it works well, but some find this type of clip uncomfortable to work with. To me, the current Mini Manix clip is OK. But mostly because it is reversible for lefties. The Li’l Temp is strictly intended for righties, although I find it OK for left-handed use.

The S30V edge holding has become what I expect from this steel in a Spydie. In my subjective opinion S30V holds an edge better than VG-10, about 3 to 4 times longer. But I never let my knives go really dull, so YMMV. The serrations on my CE Mini Manix are a bit different. It looks like someone found a way to provide sturdy but sharper points on the teeth by lowering the scallop. Interesting. Performance is the same as the teeth on my Li’l Temp.

An edge-up grip is very secure and comfy for all types of fine and rougher utility work with the Mini Manix. This is a bit trickier with the Li’l Temperance because it has no choil and the edge comes so close to the handle, compared to more traditional folders. During food prep, a slight inconvenience with the Mini Manix came to the surface. That huge wide blade, that offers such a thick blade (yet sharp edge), is not exactly the right tool for fine turning cuts. The wide blade doesn’t turn as easily as my Calypso. The Li’l Temp is also not really suited to this type of cutting, but the blade spine is more tapered, so it is a tiny bit thinner. Other than that, the Mini Manix is fun to use and it plain works. There’s plenty of curve on the edge to use it on a cutting board, and the short blade is easy to control.

The grip serrations on the spine above the hole on the Mini Manix did prove useful in the kitchen. My wet hands found ample grip. In regular MBC type cutting on the dummy with dry hands, these serrations help to just plain glue the knife to my hands. The Li’l Temp has no gripping serrations on the spine. But this is because it doesn’t need them for grip. The 3D grip design helps to settle the knife in the hand in various other ways. For example, the butt of the knife rests securely in the palm of my hand during thrusts.

The large bump on the choil of the Mini Manix sticks out a bit, from the rest of the body. Not only does it make a really nice guard, it also helps to ‘find your way around the knife’. I liken it somewhat to a trigger. My index finger finds that trigger and quickly settles in the rest of the fingers and palm. It could be a little more smoothed out for comfort, but I like how it works. The Li’l Temp has no choil but a separate guard.

The Mini Manix feels just a bit heavier than a Li’l Temperance. In my case, I like to carry a pair of Mini Manixes, one PE for everything that needs cutting and a CE one which edge is reserved for all types of emergencies. You do feel it when carrying two Mini Manixes at once. It’s not a bad feeling though, and it certainly doesn’t drag down my pants. The Li’l Temp is made of G10 with only thin steel liners. In addition it is a very open design, versus the closed lockback of the Mini Manix. I imagine that carrying two Li’l Temps would noticeably more lightweight. However, that would not be as comfortable since the Li’l Temp is a right-hand-only design.

In the end I really like my Mini Manixes, because I can comfortably carry and use two at a time, because of the excellent clip options. The wide thick blade offers an amazingly sharp blade, just like my beloved Li’l Temp. The grip security is similar to the Li’l Temp as well, but the Mini Manix is a bit more ‘blocky’. When purposely squeezing the Mini Manix’ handle you feel a few hotspots. In practical use this discomfort did not pop up. The Mini Manix’s opening action is as smooth as the Li’l Temperance, but requires a little more oil for maintenance. Other than that, the Mini Manix is the same all-round sturdy design. Excellent for utility, strong and lively enough for MBC.

It seems like someone took notice of the fandom that the Li’l Temperance has acquired last year. I remember a couple of Mini Manix requests, but much more requests for a Li’l Temp. With the Li’l Temp II still in a concept-stage, the Mini Manix is an excellent alternative to hold us over until my dream Ti integral compression lock SE Li’l Temperance with a full set of divot holes arrives.

The bottom line: 1 Li’l Temp still beats 1 Mini Manix, but two Mini Manixes beat 1 and even 2 Li’l Temps. I’m happy with my Mini Manixes to wait for the next generation of Li’l Temperances to arrive.

Review: Polliwog PE

October 22, 2005

The Polliwog has kicked the Dodo out of my pocket for sure. There I said it. I carried the Dodo as an EDC since that model first came out. It carried great as an ‘office-tactical’. The Polliwog is better for me. It carries more discreetly, the draw is more fluent, the blade shape is more versatile and I can really sharpen this non-reverse-S edge.

I had the good fortune of witnessing a tiny part of the Polliwog’s evolution, from concept model to prototype to final product. I handled a proto in 2004 and a pre-production version in 2005. Sal related that this new Eric-design was meant to be a ‘kit model’. A model the ELU could put together himself, but also customize with different handle materials and blade shapes. A Spyderco Lego kit if you will. That idea never came to fruition, mostly due to liability issues I believe.

The first thing I noticed about the Polliwog is its weight. Definitely more heft than the Dodo. But this weight seems to disappear when clipping it IWB or when you hold the opened knife. Eric did it again. How does he do that? Like the Manix, the perceived weight magically disappears during use. At least, that’s how it works out for me.

The great thing about the Little Big Knives is that full-size hand-filling handle. The same is true for the Polliwog. The steel handle is contoured to keep the knife from sliding backwards and forward, while the cutouts or slots (an Eric Glesser trademark) offer gripping points for the fingertips. These cutouts work great when retrieving the knife from you waistband and during cutting. The little slots provide gripping pads in an otherwise smooth handle. The slots offer the same ‘grip’ as Spydie G10.

I like to curl my pinky completely around the little tail, and the knife stays put. Yes, the handle is SS, which is a no-no for hard thrusting moves (or even accidental ones during food prep!). But with the pinky securely curled around the tail, this knife is not going anywhere. I must add that this type of grip is kind of instinctive for me. In Iaido we are taught a similar gripping technique. Curl the pinky under the butt of the sword handle and you can safely thrust with a Boken with the Tsuba removed. The extreme blade to handle angle, make the Polliwog look like a folding Ka-Bar TDI knife. I imagine that this is how a small derringer feels.

The closed Polliwog is also an improvised Keating Stinger. Orient the closed Polli in you fist like a push knife, with the pivot end resting against your palm and the tail protruding between you index and middle fingers. The knife is surprisingly comfortable in this grip. Even when punching with it, I experience no severe pinching at all. Everything is nicely rounded and dehorned, which is also great for pocket carry. Of course you need to be a circus juggler to safely turn around the knife from this grip to open it again quickly, but I think it is a fun feature. The Dodo never worked for me as an impact tool, my hands are too big.

The blade and handle combine to make a really nice symmetrical arc. The arc naturally guides your index finger along the spine for fine point work. I would prefer the spine to be left rough, like on the Dodo. This offers a bit more grip. If not for the rough coating, I would like some thumb grooves for more grip on the spine. I can see why these features were left out though. The Polliwog in its current configuration is one of the smoothest carrying and drawing folders I own.

The blade cuts nice enough, though I would prefer a full flat grind. The drop point blade and full grip are ‘conventional’ enough that you tend to want to use this micro folder as if it were a –much larger- Native. When you do that, it strikes you that this folder is too big for such a limited blade length. Compare it to a Kiwi, and the picture changes. The Kiwi is a great utility design, but I like to complement such a knife with a stronger and more substantial knife. In comes the Polliwog.

Friendly looks
Closed, it looks like the ball will fall out. A nice feature to point out to NKP’s. The whole ‘look’ of the knife is very NKP or sheeple friendly. It looks like a Meccano kit. The small blade length and large round shapes help to further improve the Polli’s perceived ‘innocent look’. In this respect it would be great to take off the swedge and make it a full flat ground blade.

I love it, I carry it a lot, and I love to work with SS handles these days. They are so comfortable to use, since there are no hotspots. The slots, blade to handle angle, and the finger cutouts make sure the handle never gets too slippery.

What else is there? The wire clip is just right, the tension is perfect. The edge holding is what we have come to expect from VG-10. It’s not much of a food prep knife, too short. Then again, neither was the Dodo. In my mind, this is a great design for guys who like gadgets (looks) and small tactical folders. And the drop point blade with a strong tip, make it a nice utility folder. But bring along a Delica for the picnic. The Polliwog doesn’t seem to work as well for me in food prep. And if you were put off by the Dodo’s reverse-S blade, because of perceived sharpening difficulties, this is the knife for you.

Review: Native 3 PE

March 25, 2005

Since my first Native, I have been a fan of the pattern. So when a new variation was announced, I was very anxious to see what the Spydercrew did to this design. Unfortunately, even this loyal fan though that the first prototype of the Native III looked ugly with those smooth spots all over the handle. Up close and personal, it’s quite a different story. My first Native III was the most excellent forum Native in 2003. And the Native III looks just as nice up close as its older variation. And function-wise there were a few improvements too.

In my opinion the blade is just gorgeous. The refined false edge is way better looking than the older spear point. It looks less like a dagger, which is always good in today’s society. In use, this blade felt like it was thinner and sliced better. Of course, the blade is made from VG-10 and didn’t hold its edge quite like my CPM440V Natives. The thumb serrations on the blade’s spine work, but I do think the older indented serration pattern worked better for keeping my thumb or index finger in place. I can imagine that the older pattern was a bit too aggressive for some (pencil pushing wussies! 😉 ).

The Native was my first experience with knives that have mega-grip handles. And lo and behold, they managed to do it better. The finger choil is slightly is deeper, so it offers more room for larger fingers as well as improving that locking grip. The handle is now fully 3D. It has a palm swell, (thumb) gripping serrations at the butt for reverse grips, and those spots are natural positions for thumbs and fingers. In a ‘sideways’ grip, with the blade cutting on a horizontal plane, the spot at the pivot offers not just comfort for a thumb but a bit of grip as well. In the banner on top of this page you can see that the spots are lightly textured, as well as the tiny little logo, Sal managed to incorporate in the new Native. The jury is still out on the FRN thumb serrations that lengthen the whole thumb-grip from the blade’s spine. Sure, they work, but little FRN ridges look very fragile. Long-term use will show whether or not it keeps working.

I am a fan of the wire clip, but have had bad experiences with it on an early Salsa, which was way too tight. This clip, however, has perfect tension. Just like the regular clips it holds the knife in place and releases easily. The bonus with a wire clip is handle comfort. It is almost impossible to find hotspots on the clip when working with this knife. Wire after all is round. While some argue that the clip should be modified a la the UK Penknife, for deeper pocket carry, I prefer the better grip you can get on the handle when retrieving the knife.

I can’t say much more about this knife. Sure a full flat grind slices a lot better, but few will notice that. What this knife does best is offering an economical folding knife with a lot of very sophisticated features and a -very- secure grip. Plus, I strongly feel it’s the best FRN MBC folder in the line-up to date, The reversible clip allows you to get two (e.g. PE & SE) for left- and right-hand carry, and you are still likely to have enough money left to get a Sharpmaker. Which you really should have gotten after your first Spydie!